Why does he get to be Mr. Pink?!

| | Comments (7)

I'm sure that someone's already thought of this, but I'm feeling too dead lazy to google it, so instead, allow me to take credit for my new word: treyincidence. A treyincidence is basically a coincidence of three things instead of two. Although, really, "co" just means together, so technically you could have a coincidence of three things as easily as two. Anyways.

I was at Borders this weekend, the proud owner of a highly date-specific 30%-off coupon, and so I went over to the Psychology section to see if Steven Johnson's new book was out (it wasn't--May 5). I'm a sucker like that: instead of taking the 30% off of something that I would have bought anyway, I'll look around for something expensive, so that my coupon brings it down just to the place where I'll feel okay about buying it. I'm exactly the right person to give this coupon to, in other words.

Anyhow, I came across Daniel Pink's Whole New Mind, and was sorely tempted until I remembered that this is the kind of sucker I'm not: I do try to be realistic about buying hardcover books when I know that I'm only somewhat likely to read them before the softcover comes out at less than half the price.

Okay, that was a lie. I still do that sometimes.

I've seen Pink's book mentioned in spots lately, and he's also the guy who wrote the NYT article to which Jon Udell referred briefly in his piece on screencasting (although that didn't occur to me at the time). That was one incident.

The second was reading Alex's smart, smart post in reply to the screencasting discussion. In part, Alex suggests a writing curriculum that mixes composition, professional writing, creative writing, and new media. The result?

The result, ideally, of such a curriculum is a student who is a confident, practiced writer; who understands his/her creative process; who has developed a productive writing practice for him/herself; who has composed and performed work in multiple "creative writing" genres; who has internalized some sense of rhetorical and poetic theory (to really get into it would require further graduate study); who has experience writing in workplace genres and bringing a more creative, "right brain" attitude to them; and has a strong foundation in working with new media.

I'd planned on linking to this originally, but as I was frittering away my time yesterday, I came across my third incident/encounter with Mr. Pink, over at Kathy Sierra's site, in an entry where she contrasts the US and Japan in terms of their design (in)sensibilities. Her read on what Pink has to say?

Really, we're all designers -- at least with a lowercase "d". We're all trying to create solutions. But we should all--ALL OF US--be adding design to the list of "must learn" topics for this year.


We should all start thinking like designers.

The last time I taught our Professional Writing course here at Syracuse, I focused it around design, but it was a pretty modest course for all that. As I went back and re-read Alex's post, though, my ideas got wide. I'm thinking that, instead of trying to figure out how to negotiate a writing program amongst the traditional units in an English department, why not turn to design programs for our models?

That's the move that Stuart Moulthrop, Nancy Kaplan, and others made some time ago at the University of Baltimore, where the English dept falls under the umbrella of a School of Communications Design. And I think of the productive thinking that, for me, has been spurred by work like Kaufer and Butler's Rhetoric and the Arts of Design or Herbert Simon's Sciences of the Artificial. Honestly, what's to keep us from drawing on the curricula in graphic design, architecture, and/or art for a Bachelor of Design Arts in Writing? Or splitting the difference between an MBA and an MFA with an MDA?

I was going to end the post there, but that'd make it too easy for my first comment to be: "What's to keep us? Duh, Collin. You teach at a university, remember?" Yeah yeah. But I'm keeping the word treyincidence, and using it in a sentence daily. So there.


OMG! Please oh please make a comic from MooAlex! I want to be like Ms. Q!!!
(No, I'm not above shameless begging.)

Just thinking of some of the more mundane yet important consequences of the move you describe. E.G., How well do you think design might replace some of the tired neorhetorical terms such as audience and purpose? I realize they're not synonyms; that, in fact, is my point. Design assumes audience & purpose; it's built from them. Thus your reformed FYC would be getting at the real issues, rather than the stumbling blocks of audience & purpose. She said, hopefully.

The "tiredness" of audience and pupose has been a productive site for rearticulation for quite a while. Design schools use these concepts, but less as "god terms." Tech comm folks have shifted these performativity metaphors more towards notions of ecology and psychology (crafting "persona analyses" rather than "audience analyses"). As you know, a lot of rhetoric folks are working on new terms, practices, and pedagogies to reflect this new sensibility.

I like the idea of reconfiguring a department to reflect a design sensibility (I have been running my classes more like design workshops for about 5 years, but constantly find resistance if I take it past the class). Collin, you are in a position to start arguing for these changes. Keep up the good fight. I have been waging low-level campaigns (an intradepartmental "digital studio"; the aforementioned course-level redesign; eportfolios; mini-seminars; etc.), but avoid the "showdown" until tenure is in hand.

Please keep blogging about this if you make successful changes (or run into difficulties that we should know about).

I posted this over at Alex's blog as well:
We are doing this right now at Wayne. On the table is a BA in writing with three tracks: Professional Writing/Creative Writing/New Media. The idea is not that students will stick to one track, but that they will mix and match tracks.
We're also revising the MA in Professional Writing to be Design specific. We will have cross-listings with the depts on campus more directly involved in design (art, graphic design, etc). We want a degree that juxtaposes rhetoric with issues of communication and design.
This is all a big challenge, but not from within our ranks. The challenge is getting folks in the field to come and work with us on these projects.

Zees iz a veddy good post, hooman. It make me think much about dee-zign and writing. I mebee start to think of myself az rhetorical dee-zigner.

Shiva, I've seen your hairballs, and let me tell you: design doesn't begin to account for their beauty, intricacy, and sheer genius.

I know North Carolina has a new PhD program in Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media. Are there other places that offer a PhD with the Digital Media component?

Leave a comment



Powered by Movable Type 4.1

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on May 2, 2005 6:16 PM.

I relearn something new every Mayday was the previous entry in this blog.

Biorhythmically speaking is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.